Mike: [00:00:04] Hello, and welcome to episode 22 of the How to Become a Personal Trainer podcast, we’re your hosts, Mike Vacanti. 

Jordan: [00:00:09] My name is Jordan Syatt. And in this episode, we go over part two of the 10 most common mistakes personal trainers make. 

Mike: [00:00:16] Part two. Enjoy.

Hello, Jordan. 

Jordan: [00:00:26] What’s going on, Michael? 

Mike: [00:00:28] Not much. I feel really good from the 16-minute nap that I just took. 

Jordan: [00:00:32] That was impressive. I was wondering how long that was. You said you got right into REM? 

Mike: [00:00:38] I kind of always say that when I wake up feeling good from a nap. To be honest, I have no idea. My understanding of sleep physiology is that if you’re deprived of rapid eye movement sleep, that as soon as you fall asleep, you immediately go into REM sleep.

I don’t know if I’m actually deprived of it. I’ve been sleeping pretty well recently. 

Jordan: [00:00:58] Did you set an alarm or was it the phone going off that woke you?

Mike: [00:01:01] No, I woke up. If I take a midday nap, it’ll be between 15 and 20 minutes and then I’ll wake back up. 

Jordan: [00:01:07] You just naturally wake up after 15-20 minutes?

Mike: [00:01:09] In that 15 to 20-minute range, yeah.

Jordan: [00:01:11] That’s crazy to me. 

Mike: [00:01:11] And I feel very refreshed. 

Jordan: [00:01:13] Without any alarm. You’ll just naturally get up after 15 minutes. 

Mike: [00:01:16] Usually. I mean, I had you in Ben’s room here.

Jordan: [00:01:20] I wasn’t making noise, though. I was just chillin’.

Mike: [00:01:22] No, no, no. I mean, I wasn’t going to sleep for five hours because we had to podcast. 

If I had something going on, I would have set an alarm, but you were my alarm.

Jordan: [00:01:31] That’s one of the differences between you and me. If I take an afternoon nap, it’s going for at least two hours. There’s no way — if I fall asleep, I’m not getting up 15 minutes later. That’s just not happening. 

Mike: [00:01:45] Have you ever set an alarm for 15 to 20 minutes? 

Jordan: [00:01:48] Yeah. And I’ve done it, like when Gary needed a shake or something or, for whatever reason, if I had to by requirement. But if I’m on my own and I’m like, “Oh, I’ll just take a 15 minute, 20 minute nap,” and I set an alarm, I’ll wake up and I’ll be like, “yeah, right,” and go back to bed. If I’m going to take a nap, it’s going to be like a two-hour nap. 

Mike: [00:02:07] It sounds like you don’t nap frequently though, is that true?

Jordan: [00:02:10] I don’t ever nap. 

Mike: [00:02:11] So, the times when you would have wanted a nap… 

Jordan: [00:02:15] I was probably exhausted. 

Mike: [00:02:16] I would imagine you were quite sleep deprived.

Jordan: [00:02:18] Yeah. I’m not a napper. I’m more of a. “let’s try and get as much sleep as I can at night.”

Mike: [00:02:26] We should have a podcast where we talk about the history of sleep because polyphasic sleep cycles or sleeping multiple times within a 24-hour window have been the norm in certain cultures at certain times in human history. 

Jordan: [00:02:40] We should do an experiment on that. We should try that. 

Mike: [00:02:44] You want to be the Guinea pig?

Jordan: [00:02:45] You don’t want to?

Mike: [00:02:48] The nontraditional sleep schedule that would make the most sense to me would be something like 6 hours at night and 90 minutes in the afternoon.

Jordan: [00:02:58] I could do that.

Mike: [00:02:59] Or potentially a 7-7.5 at night and a 20-minute power nap during the day. But on the other extreme, there are — I  think it was Leonardo DaVinci who slept, I don’t think he did this his whole life, but I know he did this for at least a number of years if it was DaVinci, but he slept for 20 minutes every four hours. 

Jordan: [00:03:26] Sounds awful. 

Mike: [00:03:28] For years straight. 

Jordan: [00:03:30] That sounds terrible. Why would anyone do that? 

Mike: [00:03:36] For maximum waking hours in life. 

Jordan: [00:03:40] Just sounds like his social life really sucked. 

Mike: [00:03:45] My previous and sometimes current web developer, a guy who I actually coach. Really good dude, by the name of John who, probably three or four years ago, he gave it a shot.

So, every four hours he would sleep for 20 minutes. And I remember he would be at his kid’s friend’s birthday party, and he’d have to go out into the car because his nap time hit, take a 20-minute nap, and go back into the party. 

You know, it’s crazy. It’s crazy to me because you don’t get any deep sleep. Like, all of the good things, growth hormone production, just the good feeling of a full night’s sleep.

But yeah, what does that end up being? So that’s 6 mini-naps in a 24-hour window of 20 minutes each. You’re sleeping 2 hours per 24 hours. 

Jordan: [00:04:39] That’s terrible. It sounds terrible to me. In every aspect of it. 

Mike: [00:04:45] I think the one time it was appealing to me was probably my fourth year, maybe my fifth year my Master’s year of college, when on my mind was maximal productivity for life. Like, thinking “what can I be doing so that I don’t have to become an accountant?” And the thought of having 20 hours a day or 22 hours a day of getting things done was really attractive from the mentality of getting ahead in life. 

Jordan: [00:05:14] Right. Hustling, working. Yeah. Yeah, of course. 

Mike: [00:05:19] The fact that almost no one does it in life and those who do don’t do it for very long, I think shows that we won’t experiment with that one. 

Jordan: [00:05:28] We could try it. We could do like a whole YouTube video series on this –different sleep tests, fasting tests, we could do all that stuff.

Mike: [00:05:38] It would have to be at a time where I didn’t care about my training or my health.

Jordan: [00:05:46] It would have to be at a time where I really didn’t care about my health at all. 

Mike: [00:05:49] Where I just didn’t care about myself. 

Jordan: [00:05:50] I think those times of my life are definitely past; not caring as much about my health. Right now, it’s like, always going forward I’m constantly reminded of my health.

Mike: [00:06:00] Which enhances everything else.

Jordan: [00:06:02] Of course. 

Yeah. It puts things in perspective, too. Where it’s like, “how worth it is it to go with this hard my business if it’s going to sacrifice my health,” type of a thing, right? Whereas in previous years that would be like “business first,” and even before that, it was “powerlifting first,” and then before that it was like, whatever it is, but now going forward, I think part of getting older is focusing on your health is one of the major realizations people have.

Mike: [00:06:29] Yeah, definitely. And not just your current health. Even if there isn’t a negative consequence in the short run, let’s use working too much as an example, even if maybe the negative health impact is your body composition’s a bit worse, you feel a bit worse, maybe your blood markers are a bit worse, but you’re still overall a “healthy” person, who knows what kind of long-term impact periods of too much work, too much stress, not enough sleep can have on our longevity.

Jordan: [00:07:08] Including also mental health, emotional health aspects, as well. 

Spending more time with your family, getting outside more, taking your shoes off, hiking, getting in good weather, getting more sun, just all that type of stuff. 

Mike: [00:07:22] You’re speaking my language right now.

In this concrete jungle you and I are in. 

Outdoors. Sounds incredible. 

I can’t remember the last time my bare feet were on some grass, which is sad.

Jordan: [00:07:42] I feel like it was when you and I were in Florida. I know that’s when mine was. 

Mike: [00:07:46] When was that?

Jordan: [00:07:48] Months ago. When the weather up here is awful. Went for a few days to Florida. Just to get out of the concrete jungle. 

Mike: [00:07:57] Yeah. I think that and eventually just wanting to raise kids and not have kids grow up in Manhattan, those are kind of the two main reasons that I will at some point not be in the city.

Jordan: [00:08:13] Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree. 

You want to talk about this list? Part two? 

Mike: [00:08:22] Well, we already hit the first one. Polyphasic sleep. 

You should be having your clients on the six-naps-a-day — no, that’s a poor joke. 

Let’s review our first five items from the list. We’re talking about the 10 most common coaching mistakes that Jordan and I came up with in a little brainstorming session.

They might not be the actual top 10, but they’re 10 that are prevalent and that we feel like discussing and might be kind of underrated or under-discussed right now. 

The first five were much more formal and much more “correct.” These next five, I think they’re a little bit more bro-ey or a little more opinionated, but let’s dive in. So, we’ll let you be the judge of that. 

The first five that we already covered were: 

1) Not enough training intensity/too much emphasis on functional training.

2) Not utilizing rest times appropriately. 

3) Too much cardio to make up for bad diet. 

4) Tied into number two, but basically letting the client talk too much and dictate the pace of the workout.

5) Starting clients with a conventional deadlift rather than a sumo deadlift. 

And so now starting our next five:

6) is not programming direct abs — and specifically flexion-based abdominal movements — for the purpose of aesthetics, 

Jordan: [00:10:11] You want to take the lead on this one?

Mike: [00:10:13] I’ll take the lead on ab training because I fell victim to it as much as anybody.

It’s a widely held belief, especially in the evidence-based fitness community, that the way to get “abs” is to dial in on your nutrition, get down to X% body fat, and your abs will show through.

Many right now go so far as to say that training your abs has no effect on the aesthetics of your abs. Which is actually mostly true — nutrition is the most important thing for seeing abs. Coupled with that would be the argument that you get sufficient abdominal engagement from heavy compound movements — squat, deadlift, chin up, overhead press — these moves are giving you enough ab work. 

Whereas if you really want to do everything you can to maximize development of abs, programming, direct ab training absolutely makes sense. It’s one of those things where the pendulum swings back and forth too far. It’s swung back and forth too far on 6-8 small meals a day and then swung all the way to, “no, you can just eat one meal a day,” and the right answer is more in the middle.

And that’s why I prefaced this by saying this is more opinion, a little bit more bro-ey, but I feel like a mistake that a lot of coaches make is not programming any direct abdominal work. 

Jordan: [00:12:14] Yeah, I agree. 

And I fell into this trap as well. Especially the idea that the abs are not designed to do flexion-based movements. A lot of the evidence based community will say the abs are designed to resist movement, to resist extension, to resist flexion, which is why they come up with a lot of these anti-extension, anti-flexion exercises, anti-rotation exercises like planks, single leg planks, and they’re phenomenal exercises and they’re great ways to strengthen the abs. They’re phenomenal. 

I think, like anything in life, just going so far to one side saying you should never do any flexion-based ab exercises is a very short-sighted, narrow-minded way to look at things. One of the first ones that come to mind for me is the reverse crunch.

I think the reverse crunch is, without question, one of the single best core exercises, not just for aesthetics, not just from the perspective of you are actually strengthening the abdominal muscles in a way that they’re going to then grow and get bigger and more muscular and more aesthetic, but also from a postural perspective. I think the reverse crunch is one of the best exercises to correct excessive anterior pelvic tilt. It can really help people who have lower back pain. 

I think for people just to say flexion based ab exercises are always bad, usually their perception of flexion based ab exercises are people doing flexion based ab exercises wrong, so really what they’re saying is it’s not that flexion based ab exercises are bad, it’s that doing them with bad technique, in inappropriate volumes and intensities is bad. Which is the same thing for literally any exercise in the history of ever. Any exercise done with inappropriate technique, with too much volume, too much intensity is bad, but there’s appropriate ways to do it. 

Mike: [00:14:03] And in addition to that, inappropriately prioritized within a training session, right? How many people can you think of who their fitness plan was, significantly cut calories, go for a run every day, and do 15 minutes of crunches after? 

Jordan: [00:14:23] Yeah. 15-minute abs. You do crunches, bicycle crunches, Russian twists, all that stuff.

Mike: [00:14:29] Right. 

Direct ab training is still a very small piece of an entire training program and is much less important than everything that you know to be important — getting stronger at compound movements. 

Jordan: [00:14:49] I was just talking to Alec today at Structure. He was asking because today was our neck and ab day in our overarching program. We’re training six days a week, we’re doing pull, push upper, lower as our four main days and then we have two days of neck and abs. And I was talking to this really great young coach named Alec at Structure Personal Fitness — best gym in New York — and he was asking us about what we were doing today, and we said it was neck and abs day. And we were talking about how in a normal workout schedule, when we’re not dealing with coronavirus and where our schedules are packed and we might only have 45 minutes, it can be hard to dedicate 10 minutes of that 45 minutes to solely abs.

So I think if you’re someone who can only train three days a week for 30 to 45 minutes per session, then dedicating 10 minutes of 30-45 minutes solely to abs is probably not your best idea, but that’s where you can use super sets to do maybe a set of dumbbell bench press with a set of abs or whatever it is.

And again, it also depends on your goals. If your goal doesn’t revolve around increasing the muscle size of your abdominal musculature, then you shouldn’t be doing that stuff. You’d be better off with a plank or a single leg plank or a reaching plank or a bear crawl, something of that nature that is more anti-extension, anti-flexion, but I think the discussion really boiled down to: if you want to build more robust, more defined abdominals and if you want to have the chance of having more visible abs at a higher body fat percentage, then you need to train them like a muscle that will grow. And isometric exercises are not the best exercises for muscle growth, right?

No one’s going to build their biceps doing isometrics. No one’s going to build their back doing isometrics. You’re not going to build your abs using isometrics. You will build bigger ab muscle using both a concentric and an eccentric component. 

Mike: [00:16:56] Mic drop.

That’s exactly right. 

Number seven. This is a very specific — would you call this a pet peeve?

Jordan: [00:17:08] I don’t even know what it is. 

Mike: [00:17:10] Putting plates under someone’s heels while squatting instead of actually working on mobility. 

Jordan: [00:17:16] This is a pet peeve, but it’s also a serious issue that I see a lot of people doing. And I think, for example, I see a lot of coaches — I’ll say, there’s nothing inherently wrong with putting plates underneath someone’s heels if you want them to squat. My issue is when a coach will do that and then after the set of squats, they’ll just talk to the client and just chit chat and do nothing instead of addressing the actual issue with why they can’t squat in the first place. 

So if you’re going to have a client squat with their heels slightly elevated because they can’t do it properly otherwise, then you better make sure that you’re super setting that movement with some type of a mobility or stability drill that’s going to address their specific issue in regard to why they can’t squat to depth. 

Whether it’s ankle mobility, whether it’s a stability issue at the hips, whether it’s an issue with their core stability, whatever it is, there’s an issue here and there’s a reason why you’re elevating their heels.

That heel elevation is just a band aid for the time being. And unless you’re working on actually addressing it and fixing it with the stuff you’re programming, then what are you doing? 

It doesn’t make any sense to me. That shouldn’t be your go-to for their entire training career. 

Mike: [00:18:29] Especially if you’re taking a two- or three-minute rest between sets of squats.

Jordan: [00:18:33] Yeah, exactly. 

Mike: [00:18:35] Use that time. 


Is this not –and this is me asking a genuine question — is that not the exact same thing as squat shoes? 

Jordan: [00:18:47] Yeah, it is. 

I will never take a gen pop client and have them get Olympic lifting shoes. It makes zero sense to me. Not to mention, I have a gen pop client coming in the gym, they have several pairs of shoes, they’ve spent at least a hundred dollars on these shoes, they’re going to spend probably at least one to two minutes, getting those shoes on, and then they’re going to take another one to two minutes, getting those shoes off, to put on their other shoes. We’re already about five minutes down, just based on their shoes for the workout.

It’s like, I’ve only got 45 more minutes with you. Like, let’s go. I’m not going to have you use several different pairs of shoes during your workout, which is actually why I love the New Balance Minimus that Eric Cressey always sends, that he gives all to his interns and he has a big  deal with New Balance — as he should, he crushes it — but I like more minimalist style shoes or barefoot. That’s just, for me, what I generally prefer.

Or, if I’m working with a powerlifter or an Olympic lifter, sure, you can wear Converse or you can wear Olympic lifting shoes, whatever you want. But the vast majority of your clients are probably going to be gen pop. And if you’re making them get $180 Adidas Adipower’s, what the hell are you doing? It’s ridiculous. 

And not to mention, I see coaches doing this with clients, with a goblet squat — putting 2.5-pound, 5-pound weights underneath their heels and I’m like, “what are you doing?”

One of the first things you can do is just take their stance out a little bit wider. Usually a lot of times people will do this because the coaches think that the toes and heels and feet have to be directly underneath the hips and directly underneath the shoulders and toes pointing straight forward — very few people can do that and hit depth. Take their feet out a little bit wider, turn their toes out, and odds are you’re not going to need the weights anyway. So, for me, it’s just like, I see too many coaches doing that because they saw it on a YouTube video or an Instagram video, like, “do you lack ankle mobility? Do this!”

And then they start doing it, where it’s like, just take their stance out an inch wider on each foot, turn the toes out slightly, and you’re fine. 

Mike: [00:20:37] What are a couple of your favorite drills for someone with outrageously bad ankle mobility? 

Jordan: [00:20:46] This is the one weakness of a podcast, right? Because you can’t show it. 

So, I have all these on my YouTube channel that I put up in late 2012-2013. One of them is called “toe raised wall ankle mobility,” is, I believe, what I called it. Basically, where you go up against a wall, you put one foot in front of the other.

Mike: [00:21:05] You’re facing the wall?

Jordan: [00:21:07] You’re facing the wall, hands against the wall, your feet staggered-stance, and your front foot you put the toes up on the wall while your heel is on the ground, and you just get your knee of that foot to touch the wall and you move back and forth. It gets a nice stretch on the calves while you’re also getting a little more ankle mobility, too. 

And I like to go in three different directions. So, the first time, the knee goes over the big toe; the second, the knee goes over the middle of the toes; and then third, the knee goes over the pinky toe. You just go in that order: big toe, middle, pinky, big toe, middle, pinky, just to get all directions.

Mike: [00:21:38] Beautiful.

Jordan: [00:21:41] The other thing I’ll say on that is a lot of coaches at certifications, who are running the certification, will address mobility issues, as they should. And I think one of the best models here is the joint by joint approach, I believe that was popularized by Gray Cook from the FMS, which I really, vastly support. The issue is a lot of the people running certifications and online, they’ll show different ways to test ankle mobility, specifically, not because most people struggle with ankle mobility, but because there are tests that look cool to other coaches who don’t know better, like, “Oh, that’s how I can test for ankle mobility.”

I can count on one hand how many clients have had who’ve actually had ankle mobility issues that prevented them from being able to squat. Less than five out of thousands of clients. Most mobility issues are not coming from the ankle, most of mobility issues are really coming from the hips, they’re coming from the thoracic spine, which really is, I think, the major culprit, especially nowadays. But the hips and thoracic spine are really the major mobility issues. 

Most people are not struggling with ankle mobility issues at all. And I think really one of the easiest ways to deal with it is through soft tissue work, whether it’s a lacrosse ball, accu-moblity ball or something, if they actually have it. 

But keep that in mind — one hand I can count on, the number of people I’ve met who actually have legitimate ankle mobility issues preventing them from squatting. 

Mike: [00:23:09] Got it. So, between their sets of squats, then they’re doing hip stuff? 

Jordan: [00:23:13] Yeah. Hip stuff, thoracic spine stuff. I mean, a lot of the things that present as a mobility issue are actually more of a stability issue. They’re actually like a lack of core stability, lack of hip stability, that can really be worked on. 

But if you’re having trouble with a back squat with mobility, the vast majority of times I’ve found it’s either hip or thoracic spine mobility. That’s really the two major ones, the T-spine, I think, is the one that’s most under-discussed.

Mike: [00:23:40] Flexion? Extension? 

Jordan: [00:23:41] Yeah. People are hunched over; they have terrible ability to extend and rotate in their upper back. And if you can’t extend and rotate your upper back, especially extend, if you can’t extend your upper back and you’re slouched over, good luck getting deep in a squat. You’re already starting hunched over, so now you’re expected to put a weight on your back and keep your chest up when you can’t do that without weight on it? Get out of here, 

Mike: [00:24:01] Let’s just throw some 5s under their heels and everything will be okay. 

Jordan: [00:24:05] Exactly.

Mike: [00:24:10] Number seven is talking to your client like you’re trying to impress other coaches. 

This was your idea. I mean, I obviously see it. I see it a lot in content creation, which isn’t speaking to your client, but it’s speaking to people who are your potential clients. It seems to be an ego issue, right? Because when you’re talking to someone, you want to speak in their language, you want to speak in a way that they can understand and internalize and remember the concepts. You don’t want to talk so that your new coworker, who may or may not be able to hear what you’re saying, will be impressed by your vast knowledge of whatever cert you took over the weekend.

Jordan: [00:25:01] I just remember — I’ll never forget this — and I doubt this person listens to my podcast because we don’t like each other. 

Mike: [00:25:08] Shout out, this person, if they do. 

Jordan: [00:25:10] They might not even know I’m talking about them. But I remember one of the first gyms that I ever worked at, I’ll never forget this person would actively shout at their clients as they were squatting — which I think is an issue in of itself, but they would shout at them “anterior pelvic tilt! No! Posterior pelvic tilt! A little bit more anterior now!” And they would go back and forth trying to find the perfect tilt of the pelvis. And I’m like, this person has no idea what you’re talking about. And they would do this in a class setting, too, not just one-on-one. They would do this in a class of like 8 to 12 people. “All right, I want everyone to show me an anterior pelvic tilt.” I’m like, what are you doing? And that wasn’t even the only example. 

Mike: [00:25:53] Do you think it was driven by genuine excitement– 

Jordan: [00:25:57] No.

Mike: [00:25:57] That they had just learned these new terms? 

Jordan: [00:25:59] Absolutely 

Mike: [00:26:00] not. 

Jordan: [00:26:01] I know this person. It was not driven by that. 

Mike: [00:26:05] Was it maybe some kind of a social disorder, like on the spectrum of sorts? 

Jordan: [00:26:13] This person was definitely socially unacceptable in many ways.

I don’t like this person at all. Really bad relationship with this person. But it was driven by wanting to impress people, is really what it was. And clearly, I have a huge bias just based on me not liking this individual.

Mike: [00:26:32] I think that’s normally what the driving factor is. 

Jordan: [00:26:36] I did the same thing. If you go read my articles on my website from 2011-2012-2013, you’re going to see a very different author.

The writing that I used is using words that are way bigger, way more scientific, I’m linking out to research articles that no one’s going to read unless they’re in the industry. Even just the subjects of what I would write about were clearly geared towards coaches as opposed to the people who actually need it.

We all go through this, myself included. I think it’s very important to be aware of it. What I would say is most people, generally speaking, are very good at speaking to their in-person clients. Most coaches are generally pretty good at understanding, okay, I need to break this down very simply. I’m going to try and use really easy to use cues, vocabulary, whatever it is. I’m going to use very easy to understand words and ideas and good analogies for people to understand. 

But then when they go to write or they go on a podcast, they get nervous and they start to use bigger words because they’re petrified of what other coaches are going to think of them, what they’re going to say. So they start to use these big words that they learned in their recent certification or from an article they read online, or they’ll go on Google to try and find a word that sounds more advanced than the words that they’re going to use in general.

What I encourage every coach to do is before you put out a piece of content or an article or whatever is just read through it and if there’s any single word that you don’t use when you talk to someone in person, don’t use it in writing. It’s one of the simplest things. For example, one of my favorite words, and this is slightly off topic, but I see this all the time.

When I see coaches online talking about nutrition and diet, one of the most common words that I see them use is “consume.” Like, “when you’re consuming food,” “for the diet that’s best to consume.” I’m like, have you ever used that word when you’re talking to a client in person? Have you ever said, “so, what did you consume today?”

Never ever, but they love to use that word in their writing because it sounds more advanced or higher level. Just say, “eat.” Just say “eat.” That’s it. It’s all you need to say. 

So anytime you read through your own writing or you’re editing it or whatever it is, ask yourself if you would ever say that to someone out loud and if the answer is no, then don’t use it.

Mike: [00:29:03] Yeah. That’s a great piece of advice. I use “consume” frequently in real life related to content. 

Jordan: [00:29:09] Exactly. Yeah. Consuming content. Yeah. 

Mike: [00:29:11] Not calories, though. 

Jordan: [00:29:13] How many calories did you consume today? 

Mike: [00:29:18] After that pint of ice cream? Or before? 

Jordan: [00:29:20] You eat more ice cream than anyone I’ve ever met. 

Mike: [00:29:23] I’ve eaten less ice cream in the last three to six months of my life than…

Jordan: [00:29:28] Since college?

Mike: [00:29:29] No, probably since birth.

Very little. I had that pint today, which will fit today. And I don’t think I’ve had an, a non-Halo Top pint of ice cream in definitely weeks. 

Jordan: [00:29:44] Wow. That’s good. For the gut health? 

Mike: [00:29:49] For the gut health and for just general energy levels.

Jordan: [00:29:52] And your gut’s been feeling good?

Mike: [00:29:56] Yeah. Yeah, it has. We’ll save that for another 

Jordan: [00:30:03] day.

Mike: [00:30:05] It’s so common, and by the way, this is point number eight, we’re talking about — talking to your client, like you’re trying to impress other coaches. In content, I can just picture the very bitter, very angry, very self-righteous, kind of in their own head personal trainer with, 93 followers who has 16 certifications in their bio.

And they’re just so mad that other people have attention and aren’t doing things exactly by the book, exactly to the T, and thinking of– because I think you do an extremely good job of talking to your potential client at their level. Isn’t there an X-grade reading level? Like, nothing you say should be above a fourth-grade reading level if you’re trying to make content that’s broad enough?

Jordan: [00:31:09] I’ve always just said, “I want it to be so easy a six-year-old can understand it.” I just always feel like that gets the point across, because I never know how old fourth graders are. 

This is actually a concern of mine — when I eventually hopefully have kids and they come back with their math homework. I know for a fact I’m not going to know how to do it. And I’m like, “man, fourth grade, they’re probably going to know more math than I do.” 

Mike: [00:31:33] I don’t think that’s true. 

Jordan: [00:31:35] Fourth grade math? Guarantee there’s long division in there. 

Mike: [00:31:37] I think you sell yourself short.

Jordan: [00:31:39] Don’t uplift me right now, Michael 

Long division is definitely in fourth grade, right? 

Mike: [00:31:45] You could re-learn that. 

Jordan: [00:31:47] I’m not gonna re-learn it. 

Mike: [00:31:49] But I’m saying you could in a very short amount of time, if you wanted to. 

Jordan: [00:31:53] All I’m saying is, I don’t know the intelligence of fourth graders. I can have a general idea of a six-year old’s intelligence, generally. But even then, who knows?

I mean, we’re getting smarter, I feel like. The grades are getting smarter. Although I have heard that we’re no longer teaching cursive to kids anymore in school. I heard cursive is off the table. 

Mike: [00:32:14] I didn’t know that, but that makes sense given the increase in technology and decrease in written word.

Jordan: [00:32:22] Yeah. And you can’t always just use a different font if you want to sign your name in cursive, I guess. 

But I mean, a lot of it’s on paper, so I’m still a bit surprised they’re not learning cursive. Also feel like if we’re getting rid of cursive, we could get rid of long division on paper. We just all have calculators. Just teach them how to use a calculator, right? 

Mike: [00:32:39] Yeah. That’s a good conversation for another day.

Jordan: [00:32:46] I’m really trying to steer us away. I used to do this to substitute teachers all the time, just to ask a completely random question. 

Mike: [00:32:55] I believe that you would do that. That makes complete sense to me. 

Jordan: [00:32:58] We would see who could get the substitute teacher off topic. Or if we had a teacher that we knew, like Mr. Lipski, eighth grade math, it was very easy to get Mr. Lipski off topic. We would just ask any random question and he’d go off about it. 

Mike: [00:33:10] I mean, if we’re going to go into what education curriculum should look like, I have many more bones to pick than cursive writing. Cursive doesn’t seem like it makes a lot of sense but memorizing facts in general also doesn’t seem like it makes a lot of sense when you’re leaving out things like objective morality, personal finance.

Jordan: [00:33:39] Oh yeah. 

Mike: [00:33:40] Let’s say mental health — and this is coming a little bit in schools, but meditation, ability to control your emotions, basically. A drastic uptick in physical health, self-defense. Especially for young boys and a certain subset of young boys who need more activity than others, just more movement and more physical exertion in general.

So. Yeah. 

Jordan: [00:34:13] Did I tell you what my mom would always say? My mom would always, say, “young boys should get out of school at like second or third grade and they should go volunteer. Because young boys, they have way too much energy and they can’t pay attention and they’re always running around, and they call it ADD.” And like, I was diagnosed with ADD, but it’s really, they’re young boys and they need to get outside and she’d always be like, “all the little girls, they can just sit there and pay attention, they’re very well behaved and it’s fine.” And she was like, “and then the young boys can come back when they’re in high school or 18 and start to pay attention again.” 

And I would always get so mad, but I’m like maybe she had a point. I just couldn’t pay attention when I was a kid. 

Mike: [00:34:58] Yeah, well, we could solve that the natural way, or we could just, you know, boost up this trillion dollar drug industry and give 20%-30% of the kids pills to take every single day, because that makes a lot of sense for a seven year old.

Jordan: [00:35:12] Oh, my God. I know. 

Mike: [00:35:14] And the last point that I was going to make was basically: the type of person who’s going to judge you for talking to your potential client or your client at their level isn’t the kind of person that you want to impress. That person with 16 certs in their bio, who’s just like, any comment they’re leaving on any post is critical or negative or just trying to nitpick, you don’t want their approval.

And so, let this be a good reminder just, not only because it’s most helpful for your client and also just because it’s the right thing to do to not make that mistake. 

Jordan: [00:35:58] Correct. 

Mike: [00:36:00] Did I go too far taking a shot at the drug industry? 

Jordan: [00:36:02] No. 

Mike: [00:36:02] Okay. 

Jordan: [00:36:05] This is our podcast. I don’t think we can go too far.

Mike: [00:36:12] Number nine. 

So right now, we have: 

6) not programming enough abs — flexion-based, especially. 

7) putting plates under the heels, rather than working on the actual issue.

8) talking to your client like you’re trying to impress other coaches. 

And now 9) you don’t take your own advice.

Jordan: [00:36:35] This is a big one.

Mike: [00:36:37] This is a big one and we can attack this from so many different angles.

Do you have a particular angle you would like to start with? 

Jordan: [00:36:47] This is one of the more common questions that I get from coaches and especially coaches who, they say:

“I’m going to be very honest with you. I’m not happy with how my body looks. I’m technically overweight. I have a lot of knowledge, I’m a great coach, I give my clients great advice, and my clients get great results, but I’m very self-conscious with how I look. And I don’t think other coaches will take me seriously. And I’m concerned about getting more clients because why would they trust me when they could go to someone else who looks more fit?”

I used to have this debate when I was a when I was a competitive powerlifter. A very common debate that I used to have was, “do you have to be strong in order to be a strength coach?” which sort of goes like, “do you have to be fit in order to be a fitness coach?”

The debate was always around, “do you have to be strong to be a strength coach?” And this is when I was at the height of my powerlifting career and I was setting world records. And my opinion with that is very similar to what my opinion is now, which is, there are some remarkable strength coaches who are not strong at all. There are some truly incredible strength coaches. I don’t believe, for example, Bill Belichick — and correct me if I’m wrong — that he was a phenomenal football player. 

Was he a phenomenal football player? 

Mike: [00:38:13] I think he played in the NFL, but I’m not sure of that. I thought he was a cornerback and I thought he played a little bit in the league.

Jordan: [00:38:22] Got it. So not anything crazy noteworthy, but he still had experience. 

So, the way I think of it is there are some really, truly remarkable strength coaches who were not ever world-record strong, but they all were strong. In terms of they all lifted. There was never a strength coach who didn’t actually ever lift.

There was never a strength coach who produced tremendous strength athletes who had never lifted before, who hadn’t developed a considerable amount of strength on their own. I think this is important to say because when you’re coaching people in strength, it’s not just about understanding technique, it’s not just about understanding programming and periodization, you must understand the mindset. You must understand the mental and emotional struggles people have that they’re going through, not just in the gym, but also outside of the gym as a result of what they’re spending their time doing. 

When they’re walking up to a bar with four plates on either side and they’re getting super anxious about blowing their spine out of their back and getting nervous, what do you say to them to help calm them down, to get them ready? Only someone who’s done that can really know what it will feel like and understand how to communicate with that athlete. 

So, I think you don’t have to be world-record strong in order to be a great strength coach. And just because you are world-record strong does not mean that you will be a great strength coach, but having that experience improves your likelihood of actually being able to help more people with that. 

Same thing, going back to the original question, and I always say, “listen, you could be a tremendous coach and still be at a significantly high body fat percentage. You can be a remarkable coach and get your clients amazing results.”

My question is, you’re feeling insecure for a reason, right? Let’s address your insecurity. Why are you feeling insecure? And usually it’s because they know they want to lose weight, they know they want to, in their words, “look the part.” And with that in mind, it’s like, I guarantee you will be a better coach when you also do the stuff you’re helping your clients do. Because you will not only learn the science of it, you’ll not only learn the practical application, but you’ll learn the mental and emotional side as well. It’s impossible to understand the mental and emotional side if you don’t go through it. 

We’ll use another example: there are tremendous doctors who help cure cancer who’ve never had cancer. You don’t need to have cancer in order to help their clients get over cancer, right? But I guarantee you a doctor who’s been through it before will better be able to relate to someone who’s also going through it. And they might be able to have conversations with a patient in a way that a doctor who hasn’t gone through it will. 

So, it’s the same thing — you don’t have to have cancer in order to be a cancer doctor. You don’t. But usually when you go through something and you experience it, you can relate to the people you’re helping on a much deeper level, which might help you be that much better, if that makes sense. 

Mike: [00:41:15] Yep. It does. And I wholeheartedly agree with that. 

That’s an excellent and probably the best reason why coaches should not make this mistake and should take their own advice. Another reason, and to give an example somewhat related, I believe it was on Joe Rogan’s podcast a year or two back — he had Georges St-Pierre on, who’s one of the greats of all-time in the UFC. And for most sports, fighting being one of them, but for most sports, for athletics, there’s diminishing returns on being incredibly lean, right? Aesthetics and performance have a lot of overlap, but definitely not complete overlap. And you don’t want the physique of someone who just won a bodybuilding show or someone who is a fitness model. 

Even though that might be, “the most aesthetically appealing physique,” that is not the most optimal physique for fighting. But GSP looks remarkable. He has a remarkable physique. And I think it was on Rogan when Joe asked him about it and he was basically like, “marketing.” Like, “sells tickets,” or something along those lines. And the same goes for being a personal trainer. Not necessarily saying that you need to be a certain amount of leanness, but “looking the part,” in general, whether that means having a little bit of muscle, being a healthy weight, having good proportions, whatever it is, there are some potential clients who can’t see past your physique. And for those people — I don’t even want to put a percentage on it, but what you are doing is, by going through what Jordan just talked about, not only will you learn all of those things by going through the process of getting in shape, but you will also make your own life easier by having better marketing. 

Jordan: [00:43:46] I think it’s a great way to put it. And I love how Georges St-Pierre said that. I remember that where he was like, “listen, people are going to want to watch me fight more if I look like –” he didn’t say this, but like, “look like a gladiator.” 

And a lot of coaches get mad. They’ll be like, “yeah, they’re big and shredded and ripped and strong, but they don’t know anything and they’re getting all these clients,” and it’s like– 

Mike: [00:44:07] And the coach is right. 

Jordan: [00:44:08] 100% right. Just being big and shredded and strong doesn’t mean you’re going to be a great coach, doesn’t mean you have any legitimate knowledge, but it clearly makes the marketing side significantly easier. It makes getting people to trust you significantly easier. It removes a barrier. It’s like, “okay, well, I sort of want to look like that.” 

One of the big things for me that drew a lot of clients to me was: there’s a really small guy, who’s not jacked, not huge, but lean and outrageously strong. Deadlifting 500 pounds, weighing 132 pounds. I want to do that. 

If I just looked like I did, without that level of strength, it wouldn’t have been as enticing. It would have been like, “okay, well he just looks like a regular guy, a regular, fit guy.” Which is great, that’s fantastic. And that works. But having the extra component on top of it, it reduces a barrier, it shows some level of understanding. 

And actually this brings up a good point, because I know a lot of coaches get mad at people who might be shredded or big or strong or whatever it is, and they’re like, “well, they don’t know anything, though.” And it’s like, “but maybe they do…”

Mike: [00:45:17] Yeah, you CAN be both. 

Jordan: [00:45:19] Twitter is such a great place for arguments. I just got in a big debate with someone on Twitter because we had differing opinions on something and she was like, “well, I suggest you educate yourself.” And I was like, “well, how do you know I haven’t educated myself?” And she was like, “because if you did, then you wouldn’t think that.” I was like, “two people who are educated can have differing opinions on something.”

That’s one of the great parts of education and having different opinions and living in a country that allows us to have freedom of thought and freedom of speech. But, a lot of coaches, just because someone has a different opinion than you on something doesn’t mean that they’re uneducated and doesn’t mean they’re stupid and it doesn’t mean they can’t help people in the same way that just because you have a different opinion than someone else doesn’t mean you’re uneducated or you can’t help people, right? So, I think it’s very easy to look at a coach and look at what they do and say, “well, that’s so stupid. That’s so dumb. Can’t believe they’re getting so many clients.” Get out of that negative mindset, get out of that judgmental, jealous mindset and just focus on what you can do rather than hating on what they’re doing. 

Mike: [00:46:23] Very well said.

Number 10 on our list is warmup time. This is a mistake that a lot of coaches make. Why is warmup time a mistake? Because I’ve seen coaches who don’t even know what a warmup is.

Jordan: [00:46:45] Right. So, we could play this from both sides, right? We could play it from the side of coaches literally not warming up at all — they’ll do the “10 arms swings,” right? They’ll do the arm swings, they’ll do the arm circles, they’ll do the 10 squats, “all right, let’s go.” And that’s it. And I think that’s a mistake. 

If your warmup takes less than 60 seconds, odds are it wasn’t really a good warmup. 

And on the other hand, I’ve seen coaches who, literally, the majority of the workout will be a warmup.

I’ll never forget this, I heard someone say — can’t make this up — I heard someone say that for whatever your age is, that should be the number of minutes your warmup is for your workout. So, if you’re 30 years old, your warmup should take 30 minutes. I’m like you’re out of your mind, if you think I’m going to take my 45-year-old client and make them warm up for 45 minutes and then they have a 15-minute session.

Are you crazy? 

Mike: [00:47:41] And what about people over 60? 

Jordan: [00:47:42] That’s exactly right. You’re crazy. 

So, I think it plays on either end of the spectrum. I think a good warmup is, generally, the shorter end being 5 minutes, the longer end being 15 minutes. That’s really the range you should fall in.

I think the vast majority of people, 5-7 minutes is plenty. If you can’t do your warmup in 5-7 minutes, for the vast majority of people, then I would look at what you’re doing. 

Mike: [00:48:13] I actually think you came in a little higher than I was expecting you to come in with your preferred warmup time.

Jordan: [00:48:23] Oh, you thought I would say lower than 5-7 minutes? 

Mike: [00:48:25] I thought you were going to say less than that, yeah. 

Jordan: [00:48:27] No, I think I slack on my own personal warmups. 

Mike: [00:48:31] I wouldn’t call it slacking. This is where I think there is a decent amount of individual variation, meaning personal preference with regards to how much they enjoy the process of warming up, personal preference with regard to how often or infrequently someone might get hurt.

Those two things, especially, because I think of myself first and foremost, because every time I’ve ever tweaked or dinged something up, it was on the back end of a rushed or limited warmup. Whereas if I do a normal, solid 5-8 minute warmup and then also,maybe do a little bit of activation-type work, meaning some pullovers before a push or a pull day, or a set of pull-ups before bench press and actually take the time to do that and/or walk for a few minutes on the treadmill or do something just to get the blood pumping a little bit, I’m so much less likely to get hurt and, in general, more likely to have a good workout. 

We’ve made jokes about this, but people who say like, “does a lion in the jungle need to warm up? No, it just goes.”

Jordan: [00:50:00] I’ve always found that the more mobile someone is, the more mobility and flexibility someone has, the less they need to warm up. 

Mike: [00:50:05] That makes sense. 

Jordan taking shots at my mobility over here. 

Jordan: [00:50:12] No, but, for me, my mobility is pretty good.

Mike: [00:50:16] It’s elite. 

Jordan: [00:50:18] It’s not elite, but it’s pretty good. I’d say it’s on the higher end. And that comes from years and years and years of whether it was doing gymnastics or wrestling or jujitsu, whatever it is, I’ve primed my body to be relatively mobile and flexible. 

Whereas if you don’t have a lot of mobility, the warmup is designed to give yourself enough mobility and then to then stabilize it within that mobility and then to go in the workout. So, if you’ve already got the requisite mobility and you’re still spending 20 minutes doing mobility, you’re wasting your time.

If you already have the requisite mobility, the majority of your warmup should be slight mobility stuff, mostly stability stuff to make sure your glutes are firing, hamstrings are firing, abs are working properly, your rhomboids are working well, your stabilizer muscles are working well, and then go into the workout.

I think that’s really what I’ve found — the less mobile you are, the longer the warmups should be; the more mobile you are, the shorter the warmup can be. And that’s really the basic requisite factor. 

Mike: [00:51:23] That’s a good rule. That’s a good general takeaway from point number 10 there. 

That’s it, that’s our “10 common mistakes that coaches are making.” We hope you enjoyed episode two of this two-part series. 

Jord, it was a pleasure talking to you as always. 

Jordan: [00:51:41] Likewise, my friend. 

We hope you enjoyed the episode. If you want to join the Mentorship, we’d love to have you. You can go to fitnessbusinessmentorship.com.

That’s it, correct? Did I just mess that up? 

Mike: [00:51:51] That’s correct — fitnessbusinessmentorship.com. 

Jordan: [00:51:55] You can go over there, see what it’s all about. 

Have a wonderful day. We’ll talk to you soon.

Mike: [00:52:14] Bye everyone.

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